I have seen the future and its name is FriendFeed

friendfeed Slightly dramatic title I suppose, but FriendFeed has been causing quite the stir on the interwebs lately. And for me personally, it’s where I have been spending an increasing amount of my online time. Along with Twitter (well, when it’s working) I find myself keeping a FriendFeed tab open in my browser at all times. Both services are quite addictive!

What is FriendFeed? Essentially, it’s an aggregator for everything you do online. After you create an account, you add services to it – Twitter, del.icio.us, Digg, Facebook, Google Reader, etc. FriendFeed keeps an eye on your services, and makes items from them available in your feed. For example, nearly as soon as you bookmark a page in del.icio.us, it’ll show up in FriendFeed. Here’s my little FriendFeed bio card:

Then FriendFeed takes the next step and lets your friends comment on or “like” your items. This alone has caused a lot of controversy, because it means there’s a lot of discussion happening on FriendFeed about blog posts that isn’t displayed on those blog posts. It’s incredibly valuable though. I can visit your FriendFeed page, and comment on pretty much your entire online activity.

For more on what FriendFeed can do, check out this excellent post by J. Phil at scribkin. He goes into more detail on how FriendFeed can filter and group items, and more.

Like many others, I think FriendFeed is a game-changer. Here are some of the ways it is impacting me:

  • I visit Techmeme less frequently. Most of the same stuff comes into FriendFeed, and generally it does so much faster. If you want to keep up-to-the-second on stuff, there’s no better way than FriendFeed (except maybe Twitter).
  • Sort of related the above point – FriendFeed is becoming my new entry point. No need to visit Flickr, del.icio.us, and Digg separately to see what my friends are up to because it all shows up in FriendFeed.
  • I often “like” something on FriendFeed not to show my love of the item, but to make it easy for me to find again later. FriendFeed has a page for your comments, a page for your likes, and a page for both. Want to see what I’m paying attention to? Check out that last link.
  • FriendFeed Rooms are a neat way to connect with people on a specific topic. I’ve been pretty active in the Twitter room so far (surprise, surprise).
  • The search functionality in FriendFeed absolutely kicks ass. Want to know what people think about something? Search FriendFeed for it. Both FriendFeed and Summize are raising the bar for search as far as I’m concerned.

There’s a ton of other goodness in FriendFeed that I haven’t really played with yet, like the API (which appears to be surprisingly complete). I discover new things that I like about the service almost every day. And like Twitter, the more people I follow, the more interesting it becomes (to a certain point anyway).

Of course, it isn’t perfect. Here’s a quick list of things I’d love to see added:

  • Ability to post to del.icio.us when I share a link using the bookmarklet, much like it can send replies to Twitter.
  • Some sort of XMPP interface so I can use it like Twitter, via Google Talk. And while they’re at it, why not add an SMS interface too!
  • Built-in statistics.
  • Timestamps in the UI. I think the simple interface is great, but I’d love to see some times beside those comments.
  • More services. Currently there are 35 supported, and I understand they’re working on API functionality to allow other services to add themselves.
  • An easier way to add friends. Import from other services or something.
  • A proper iPhone interface (though Benjamin Golub’s fftogo is working quite well).

I like FriendFeed so much at the moment, that I’ve integrated it into my blog! On newer posts, you’ll find the FriendFeed bar just above the comments showing how many people have liked or commented on the post in FriendFeed. This is done using Glenn Slaven’s FriendFeed Comments plugin. I’ve also added the FriendFeed Activity Widget to mastermaq.ca, so you can see a summary of what I’ve been up to. Not sure if I’ll add it here or not yet.

I’m sure I’ll be posting a lot more about FriendFeed as the service matures and I get even further addicted to it. Like every where else, my username is mastermaq – add me!

  • Nice overview for both pro and con. Now can we talk about maybe taking a look at Disqus for your comments 🙂

  • Thanks Steven. I’ve thought about using Disqus…just haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. I worry about not being able to backup my comments or display them if Disqus dies. Maybe I just need to look into it more.

  • So after being barraged with news / praise of FriendFeed, I finally signed up. I have to agree, it’s pretty cool…

    I really wish it had OpenID though. That, and a Magnolia service would make it a lot more appealing to me.

  • Kyle – OpenID support would indeed be cool! FriendFeed already supports Magnolia. Click on “Share Something”, then at the bottom, click “See all 35 services”.

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  • Mack, thanks for the nice introduction to friendfeed. At first I thought it is kin of a competing service to twitter but now things start to make sense. I got my account and I’ll play with it once I can steal a minute from our Smibs development road map 😉

  • Awesome, I think you’ll really enjoy it Peter!